Research and Development
The Technological Strategies Division
worked on guaranteeing a single line of
technological development in the Rai
Group. Starting with the contributions to
the preparation of the Industrial Plan, the
action is implemented by checking the
consistency of the technological decisions
made by the various structures with the
Parent Company's overall strategies and
through the functional coordination of
the various internal technical operating
structures to identify and exploit every
synergy within the Group.
The digital transformation
The extensive change in the television market, with the expansion and differentiation of the distribution platforms, and the renewal of the technical equipment on the professional and consumer markets, is founded on all areas of digital technology.
The Public Service broadcaster's role, consolidated on the traditional platforms, must be extended to those of a more innovative and multimedia nature. With this in mind, a 'Digital Regulatory Plan' has been drawn up to guide the Rai Group in its future technological choices to adapt the entire production process to the requirements of flexibility and effectiveness to feed an efficient multi-platform offering.
The most recent activities focused on:
• standards for managing the metadata associated with the television product and for integration with the programming scheduling systems;
• use of IT networks and equipment, also for audio-video contribution services and IP-based solutions for national and international links.
Digital Terrestrial Television
Over 70% of the population has now switched permanently to DTT. The figures confirm an increase in the time spent watching TV, also sustained by the multiplication of the offering of new channels.
To make it easier to choose among the 13 + 1HD channels proposed by Rai, an MHP application named 'telecomando' has been implemented to enable viewers to find their way around the Rai channels available and choose from the contents offered, thanks to integration with the EPG/Electronic Programme Guide. At international level the 'Report on Transaction from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting', which is proposed as an international guide for the conversion of transmission networks, was consolidated.
High Definition Television (HDTV) and 3DTV
HDTV services are becoming more and more widely available on the various platforms, mainly on satellite, and also on the terrestrial and cable networks. For HDTV to become an involving experience for users, it is necessary for the associated audio experience to be just as exciting.
The research and experimentation activity in the audio surround recording field using holophonic and ambisonic microphones is focused on very high quality audio, suited to the various types of programmes.
Within the scope of the HD Forum Italia, Rai has taken on responsibility for the technical work team to create a multi volume work (HD Book Collection) aimed at the HD audiovisual industry.
In 2010 stereoscopic vision (3D), which has acquired a leading role in cinemas in recent years, entered our homes too. In conjunction with the Production Centre in Turin, short 3D films were produced using stereoscopic technology. They included a view backstage at a performance of Rigoletto in Mantua, which showed the immense effort made by Rai in the production of the event, and the filming, at Milan's Piccolo Teatro, of Arlecchino servitore di due padroni, with Ferruccio Soleri, from which a short film lasting about 15 minutes was made. On this subject, the activities of the Research Centre regarded, among other things, the methods used to broadcast a 3D signal which can also be received (in 2D) by users without a 3D screen and without the need for a further transmission band. The proposal, made internationally with the support of other important terrestrial broadcasters, was approved by the DVB consortium.
Hyper Media News: the convergence between different types of journalistic content
A service destined to the production units of news and information programmes, capable of aggregating and automatically classifying journalistic contents from television and web sources, has been created thanks to a joint effort between the Research Centre and the Teche Management. Hyper Media News allows the automatic transcription of words, automatically splits the news into segments, analyses the written text at semantic level, integrate information generated by the automated filing of the Teche Rai with that found on the web and made available through online news sites. The system is based on semantic analysis techniques and permits searches by concept or affinity with known contents, representing a significant step forward with respect to the current search techniques based on keywords. Hyper Media News has been awarded the Confindustria ICMT 2010 prize for innovation, presented by the President of the Republic, and the "Giovanni Giovannini" award of the FIEG.
The wide variety of services offered by Rai to users on the various distribution platforms requires sophisticated instruments to verify and improve technical quality, monitored in detail both during production and broadcasting, always in relation to better customer services.
Rai considers the commitment to technical quality to be one of the primary duties of the Public Service, as established by the Service Contract. With this in mind a special system called 'EVAluator' has been created, obtaining certification of conformity to the system specifications envisaged for the monitoring of the broadcasting services supplied to the public.
A local, national and international network
European institutions, leading companies and Universities are the preferred partners of a network of initiatives, collaborations and projects of national and international breadth, though which Technological Strategies and the Centre for Research provide innovation within the Company.
Relationships have been developed with local, national and international interlocutors and agreements made with the worlds of industry, standards boards and research, as well as with the academic world.
The aspects focused on were: mobile television (DVB-SH), Wi-Max, Open Internet TV and Web TV, infomobility, digital radio (DAB/DMB, DRM: Digital Radio Mondiale).
The strategic front of research
Rai's Centre for Research, Innovation and Tecnology (CRIT) is responsible for the on-site experimentation of new platforms and supports the Rai Group's engineering in the launch of new services, particularly for:
• High definition (HDTV) and 3D-TV, actively participating in the development of the DVB-T2 system, capable of disseminating up to 3-4 HDTV programmes encoded in MPEG-4 for every television frequency (multiplex), thus improving the performances of first generation DVB-T. The on-site tests of the new system continued with the validation of the transmission systems and receiving equipment. By proposal of CRIT and the BBC, the DVB consortium is completing the T2 system to supply mobile television and radio services.
• Mobile TV and Digital Radio, with experimental services in relation to infomobility for use in mobile television systems (DVB-SH) and those more specific, linked to the world of radiophony (with experiments in the Turin area) and collaborations with the FIAT Research Centre.
• Archives, cooperating with Rai Teche and ICT for a multimedia documentation system of the company archives and an automated digitalisation system of Betacam cassettes. The News sector in particular contributed to the Portal of the Production Units.
• TV 'on demand', cooperating with the Company Divisions and technical standardisation organisations.
• Basic research, on subjects such as super-high definition television, like '4K', second generation 3D-TV and the development of innovative and patented audio recording systems (holophonic and ambisonic), based on multi capsule microphones.
• Services for the disabled, to simplify access to information services.
• DTT, participating within the sphere of DGTVi/HDForum Italia in the definition of the specifications of the various types of receivers and relative names (SD, HD, Broadband) and supplying support for the validation and update via ether of the receiver SW on the market.